Friday, December 31, 2010

Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon, 2008

Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon is Meursault specialist Comte Lafon's Macon "side project", which Tomer Gal's Burgundy Wine Collection has started importing this year, along with the more famous parent domaine. I admit I didn't notice it in the catalog, probably because I knew Lafon was out of my price range so I only glanced through the relevant page in the catalog, never bothering to scroll down - which is a shame, as I'm always on the lookout for interesting "value" wines, and the Maconnais fits that description very well. This oversight was corrected when Tomer served the Macon-Milly-Lamartine a couple of months ago as an "appetizer" in a Nuits-St-Georges tasting. This prompted a purchase of a six-pack, comprised of a bottle each of the three village wines in the catalog, across the 2007 and 2008 vintages.

Tomer says both the 2008 and the 2007 vintages are ready, but that perhaps 2008 is readier. This opinion seems to be shared by Burghound, among others, so my strategy is to drink then 2008's first, and see what these wines are like young , then go through the 2007's and see how they behave with a little age on them.

Macon-Uchizy, Les Maranches, 2008

The nose is dominated by green apples, with hints of bananas and tropical fruit, and a welcome helping of chalk/sea-shells/whatever-you-call-it-that-you-smell-in-Chablis (that expands even more with an hour or so of air). The palate follows suit flavor-wise and is crisp yet smoothed by a saline finish that recalls a very brothy, chicken-based dish (having just returned from a traditional Iraqi-Jewish dinner might have affected my associative sensibilities, but I think not). Anything it lacks in complexity is made up by graceful poise that goes hand-in-hand with a striking, yet subtle punch. My benchmarks for value Bourgogne whites were until now the Villaine and Deux Montilles wines from Rully - but this beats them handily - it's probably not that much more delicious but it seems to focus everything it's got so much more brilliantly that it really soars beyond its AOC. This is really almost ethereal wine-making. 140 NIS. (Dec. 10, 2010)

Macon-Chardonnay, Clos de la Crochette, 2008

The nose displays citrus fruit, even citrus rind, and though the marine-like aromas I found in the Uchizy are more obvious (even showing a touch of iodine) , the whole effect is somehow more refined. There is good grip on the palate, where the marine elements I find on the nose are very clearly defined, especially on the saline finish. Lovely acidity as well. Soars to the level of a very decent Chablis Premier Cru before shutting down somewhat, leaving me hesitant to make a choice between the Chardonnay and the Uchizy. But God have mercy on anyone tasting this blind! 140 NIS. (Dec. 16, 2010)

Macon-Milly-Lamartine, Clos du Four, 2008

This is the most self-conflicted and debatable of the 2008 batch, because its aspirations are so Bourgogne-ish that it falls into some of the same pitfalls that await adolescent wines of the Cote d'or. The nose is very complete and the most Meursault-like of the lot, with a nutty note that is backed by citrus fruit and a hint of cardamon. At first, the palate displays some blatant oak that creates a disappointing impression, especially as this was the wine that initially sold me on Heritiers, but it improves with a lot of air and shows a great deal of saline-infused yumminess and winds up being fruity in an understated, Bourgogne way that places emphasis on juicy, sour-sweet citrus - especially tangerine. Delicious, as I've said, but it's obviously less ready than it's brethren. 150 NIS. (Dec. 29, 2010)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon

With the arrival of Lapierre's 2009 Morgon at the land of milk and honey, I decided the best way to welcome the new kid on the block was by saying goodbye to last year's model with a more detailed note than usual. Then, follow it up as soon as possible with the same for the 2009, and get as close as possible to a mini-vertical.

There is a minor debate as to how much the Beaujolais Crus resemble Burgundy's Pinot Noir; indeed whether we should even compare the Gamay grape to its more illustrious kin and not judge it by its own merits. Well, be that as it may, the aromatics on the 2008 are eerily close to the Cote d'Or's model, with fresh red fruit, forest floor and sweet spices. The palate is as fresh and approachable, even if it is less about fruit at first than it is about wet earth, and I think it might have fooled me had I drunk it blind, as it has a Pinot-ish sweetness mellowed with mildly spicy savoriness. If I have to make a call, I'd say the tannins here are not as sleek as a proper Bourgogne's - they exert a masculine grip, whereas even a Grand Cru has a more feminine rasp.

The higher arithmetic required to keep track of the flux of the balance between fruity and earthy flavors may be beyond me, but this wine remained delicious all evening long. (Dec. 23, 2010)

The 2009 is one of the darkest-hued Beaujolais I've tasted so far, and not only is its color much deeper than the 2008, its base tint seems to be purple rather than red. The first sniff shows a very mineral-laden character, an impression echoed on the initial sip as well. The structure is understated, yet forceful enough to give intellectual pause, making for an already lovely drop. The tannins here are more Bourgogne-like than the 2008's and they frame the fruit much more firmly, yet finely, than in the previous vintages that I'm familiar with. There is a greater abundance of fruit here, red and savory, and, on the whole, this feels like the more complete wine.

But I'm willing to throw the deep analyses into the shredder. The 2009 is a better wine because it's even more yummy than the 2008. (Dec. 25, 2010)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Banfi, Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio Alle Mura, 2001 (Dec. 11, 2010)

After being grounded by work and by playing house-husband for a couple of weeks, I decided to indulge myself in a wine I don't usually open on my lonesome. In fact, a wine I don't usually drink, period, as I've drifted from Tuscany, generally speaking, over the last three-four years. Even when someone from my regular wine circle does bring a Tuscan, it tends to be a super-Tuscan rather than one of the classic DOCG's - and almost never, ever a Brunello.

This was purchased at the Anavim store on Ben-Yehuda Street three, four years ago, on some holiday discount, so it cost a very attractive 200 NIS or so (less, I think, but I'm not sure). I've never felt comfortable, though, with the storage of the bottles I'd purchased from the store, so I've always wound up opening them earlier rather than later. This particular bottle had a very low fill, for example, said fact contributing to my decision to just open the friggin' bottle.

Whatever its state, this is a fine sample of Tuscany, making me remorseful for ignoring the region. The nose is impressive and very typical in its black cherries, chives and herbs. The palate is powerful in a restrained manner that really impresses me (Batman fans, think Neal Adams), and I think it will never get better than this: the tannins are as tamed as they will ever be - though when they makes for such a savory taste, it's rather impolite to complain - and the acidity is a bit subdued. But the overall effect is a knockout and I couldn't stop pouring. My enjoyment in this rather oddball situation - a whim pouring of a not-inexpensive Brunello, for God's sake - tends to support BdM's starring role on the classic Italy wine marquee.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Misc Notes (Nov. 2010)

Bourillon-d'Orleans, Vouvray, Art Monia Moeulleux, 2003

This where the Chenin magic goes off on its own wild tangent. The nose is all apricots and melons that strut their stuff like nubile starlets on the Riviera, shrouded by wafts of sweet spices, sculptor's clay and flint. In short, a sexy, hedonistic wine, even if you were forced to make a call based solely on its aromatic virtues - but the good news is, it's just as complex and satisfying on the palate, while more reined in, which is a good thing. Lovely. (Nov. 2, 2010).

Giaconda, 130 NIS.

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2007

Bright and juicy as always,with a chalky and herbal notes contributing to a very decent complexity. (Nov. 5, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Two weeks later:

Josef Leitz, Rheingau, Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz, Riesling Spatlese, 2006

No news is good news - and the 2006 continues to drink gorgeously. This is not a great wine but it's been very consistent across the various bottles and vintages that I've drunk. The 2006 is more advanced and mature than the 2007, with hints of dill, smoke and petrol over sugared apples, and gains length with a dose of air. (Nov. 20, 2010)

Giaconda, about 100 NIS.

Ramonet, Chassagne-Montrachet, 2005

I don't know quite what to make of this wine, as at present it is so wacky that it would would stump many tasters in a blind setting. The nose is barely recognizable as a Bourgogne: the dried grass, flint, hints of tropical fruit - as ingredients, they fit the Bourgogne mold, but not in the way they fit and work together in this context. The palate is piercing in its minerality and packed with spicy flavors, texturally resembling the more muscularly-styled Savenierres (Closel, Joly). I'm so glad I didn't buy any Ramonet Premier Crus in '05, they would have been too much for me. I think I'll stick to the cooler vintages with this producer. (Nov. 6, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 150 NIS.

Martin Nigl, Kremstal, Privat, Gruner Veltliner, 2006

I had a Gewurtzraminer today, only apparently, they call it Gruner in Austria. Honestly, it has, here, the same ripe grapefruit/lychee/spicy nose and the same sweet, fat kick on the palate and the same quinine finish. Now, the structure is a little rounder and easier to get a grip of than your Alsatian Gewurtz, and it seems to offer enough extract to cushion that 14.5% ABV (which, frankly, I suspect is at least 15%) - but still, I'd drink it now, rather than later. Besides which, it seems to give up its secrets so easily, I feel that this one bottle has quite sufficed me. ( Nov. 11, 2010)

K&L Wines, 43 USD.

Deux Montilles, Meursault, Grand Charrons, 2004

I can't tell who the featured headliner is. There's fruit in the mix, but it's it's laid back and unassuming and, while a good portion of it might be spicy, baked pears, it's not trivial to pin down further specifics. Similarly, there's a subtle hint of minerals but it, too, remains elusive. Ditto any spiciness and, thankfully, any oaky contribution. In the end, everything component is subservient to a silky, elegant savory whole, which would be not be out of place in Puligny or Chablis. Subtly complex. (Nov. 15, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, 220 NIS.

A. Et P. De Villaine, Bouzeron, 2007

Oh, I'm so glad to report that this showing dispels my doubts whether to invest in fridge space to cellar this wine. Turns out, there's no need. It's just so very, very nice right now - as nice as a wine can be without crossing the line between good and excellent. The aromatics display mellow, tropical fruit laden with chalk and herbal notes that remind me of vegetable soup. As usual, there's also a touch of toasted bread. The palate is lively and inviting, light and tasty, with decent complexity. And the bottle was finished all by my lonesome in less than an hour and a half, so I'm either a lush or this is some kind of proof positive. (Nov. 26, 2010)

Burgundy Wine Collection, about 90 NIS.

Domaine des Baumard, Coteaux Du Layon, Carte d'Or, 2005

Four bottles in, I have yet to change my mind that this lovely little creature will gain anything from cellar time, but WTF, let's just enjoy it now. The nose is complex and heart-warming, showing baked apples with a growing dose of tropical fruit, clay and flint. It's very intense and alluring and while I can see it transforming into something else, I can't see it getting any better. The palate is delicious and layered yet awkward and lacks the zip of a really great sticky; and, while there is more acidity then I remembered or expected, it still doesn't seem like enough for a very long future. But thanks for the fun and memories.

(Nov. 30, 2010)

Giaconda, 117 NIS.